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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Monday, June 27, 2005

    This entry would be better for yesterday, but here it goes.


    June 26th is an important date. (And I'm not saying that just because it's "National Chocolate Pudding Day"!)

    There have been several famous people born on this day. Athlete Babe Didrickson Zaharias in 1914, Elvis music manager Colonel Tom Parker in 1909, distinguished author Pearl S. Buck in 1892, Civil War Major General Abner Doubleday, the man who invented baseball (or so we want to be true), in 1819.

    Among those living famous Americans with today as their birthday are singer Billy Davis, Jr., who is 65, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Klaus von Klitzing, who is 62, singer Chris Isaak, who is 49, legendary biker Greg Lemond, who is 44, baseball players Derek Jeter and Jason Kendall, who are 31, actors Chris O'Donnell and Matthew Letscher, who are both 35, actor Jason Schwartzman, who is 25, NFL quarterback Michael Vick, who is also 25, Aakash Raut, who is 24, Japanese cartoonist Tite Kubo, who is 28, country music singer Gretchen Wilson, who...

    Wait a second, one of those birthday guys isn't really famous...! (Well, at least, not yet - but perhaps more now than before.)

    Yes that's right, today is the 24th anniversary of a momentous occasion in history. On June 26, 1981, Aakash Raut was born at Saint Vincent's Hospital in New York City. And the world would never be the same.


    Josh Claybourn's date of birth precedes mine by two weeks. On his birthday two years ago, he posted an entry (I want those posts back!) with famous things that happened on that day. Those older than us in the Blogosphere were trying to figure out what they were doing on Josh's birth date. (Feel free to do that with mine, though, being so close in time, it may be something similar...)

    Many notable things have happened on June 26th in recent and past American history; some good, some not so good. The positive (or neutral) things first:

    1498: The toothbrush is invented.
    1819: The bicycle is patented by W. K. Clarkson.
    1870: The first section of the Boardwalk in Atlantic City is opened along the NJ beach.
    1896: First movie theater in the United States opens. (Why didn't we go out on Sunday?)
    1923: The first race of the 24 hours of Le Mans is held.
    1924: U.S. forces leave the Dominican Republic, after eight years of occupation.
    1959: The St. Lawrence Seaway is opened.
    1963: President John F. Kennedy says the famous words "Ich bin ein Berliner."
    Did he call himself a jelly doughnut? Maybe not...)
    1964: The Beatles release their album A Hard Day's Night.
    1979: Muhammad Ali, 37, announced his retirement as world heavyweight boxing champion.
    1987: Dragnet, the movie, opened in the U.S.
    2000: The first map of the human genome is created.
    This year (2005): Her Royal Highness Princess Alexia of the Netherlands is born!! (at 2:40 PM)

    Unfortunately, some negative things have also happened on this day:

    1248: The Pied Piper leads 130 children to their deaths in Hamelin.
    1807: Lightning strikes a warehouse in Luxemborg, killing 230 people.
    1945: The charter of the United Nations is signed at a conference in San Francisco.
    An interesting note: Who presided as Secretary-General during this founding conference? None other than Alger Hiss, one of the highest ranking member of the U.S. State Department. We now know that Hiss was secretly working for the Kremlin as a Communist spy, and stealing top secret information, passing it along to the Soviets. I recently heard that they actually named something after him... at a college or something. What is this nation coming to?...
    1975: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India declares a state of emergency due to "deep and widespread conspiracy."
    1977: Elvis holds his last concert.
    1993: President Clinton orders cruise missile attacks on Iraq after his administration concludes that the Iraqi Intelligence Service was behind a plot, discovered about two and a half months earlier, to assassinate ex-President George H.W. Bush while he was in Kuwait City. Claiming that "compelling evidence" showed that Iraqi intelligence orchestrated the assassination attempt, Clinton ordered airstrikes against what he claimed was their headquarters in Baghdad. Twenty-three Tomahawk missles, each costing over one million dollars, were fired from the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. In addition to destroying the buildings, several of the "smart" missiles went off course and landed in neighborhoods, killing innocent civilians, including Laila al-Attar, one of the most talented female artists in the Middle East, who was helping to promote the work of women artists throughout the world.
    1996: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Virginia Military Institute must admit women, or else lose state support.
    2002: A federal court rules, by a vote of 2-1, that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional, because it includes the phrase, "under God." I recall being upset at this ruling, but in a way, it could end up having some benefit. Those of us who are constitutionalists and republicans could be able to point this out as a reason why we need more "strict constructionist" judges on the federal bench, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
    2003: Former SC Governor and retired U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond passed away at the age of 100. I was somewhat shocked when I saw the news. It wasn't that long before that I had wished Strom 'Happy Birthday' on this blog, and then, he passed away, on mine.

    It's 5 to 10 percent now...

    Birthdays and Boredom

    I don't know if yesterday was the most boring, and least celebratory, of all of my [24] birthdays.

    I didn't do my typical entry for this occasion (modeled upon Josh Claybourn's June 2003 post), and I think I'll still post that in an entry today.

    Update (6/30/05): I just saw that there was a new [2005] entry - using that same "This Day in History" format - at Josh's new weblog (a group blog), which I should probably be reading regularly...

    And speaking of things that I alluded to yesterday, but can still be done today...

    My Wish List
    My Wish List

    Send me some crumbs...
    It's 5 - 10% now!

    Though it's a day late, perhaps this won't be a dollar short.

    Sunday, June 26, 2005

    I am 24 today...

    Another day, another year older

    I'm a bit at a loss for words right now, so I'll link to my past June 26th entries.

    June 26, 2004

    June 26, 2003

    On birthdays and getting older

    - - - - - - [ Hint... hint... ] - - - ;-) :-) ;-)

    Saturday, June 25, 2005


    Best wishes to Nathan Turner and Sarah [Chase] Turner for a long and happy life together.

    Nathan was one of my housemates during my first year at UIS... I started this weblog shortly after moving onto campus (in the Fall 2002 semester). Both Nathan and Sarah grew into important roles in CSF. (I had joined CSF awhile before, while at the neighboring community college, and Nathan's sister was in CSF around that time; she has a weblog of her own.

    Sarah Chase and Nathan Turner at Christian Student Fellowship Nathan and Sarah both graduated a year ago, and got engaged last summer. They were married on Saturday.

    That evening, after the wedding and excellent reception celebration, I went back to Springfield, to attend 'The Gathering'... Actually, since I stopped by campus first, it was over by the time I got to West Side. I was told that while they were setting up for that event, there had been another wedding going on, right in that church. And as I was leaving, I found out that two of the people in our Young Adult group there have set a date to get married (though that'll be next year). I hadn't realized it before, but this seems to be the season for weddings.

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    I found out, not too long ago, that our old friend Bill Barnwell (who I think is only about a year older than I) became engaged. I am glad that Bill continues to write excellent columns, published at (and elsewhere). Since I first met him (not personally, but through online communication) during the 2000 elections, he decided to go into the ministry, and became a pastor. The Reverend Bill Barnwell will be married on December 3rd. Congratulations to Mr. and [soon-to-be] Mrs. Barnwell (whoever she is).

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    Who's going to be next?

    Monday, June 20, 2005

    Hey guys. Nathan again.

    Note from Aakash: I will return to blogging soon, possibly on Sunday, when I will be turning the big 2-4. Guest bloggers are going through this week though... This is an entry by Nathan Averbeck.

    Update (6/25/05): This entry by Nathan was published as an article at The Conservative Voice today. I am also trackback pinging this post to Wizbang!...

    Update (6/26/05): ...and to my birthday's Brunch at Basil's Blog and to The Mudville Gazette.

    Tent City

    “I will not make a flower. I will make a tent city,” he said in his raspy voice, firmly but not defiantly, if such a thing is possible for a preschooler.

    All around him, the other four-year-olds had happily complied with the instructions to create flowers by decorating cupcake wrappers and gluing them to the tops of green strips of paper, but this boy—knowing that flowers are for girls—had other plans. He had somehow amassed a small collection of the wrappers and began turning them upside down.

    “And Pilly and his Pillarines can live there,” he said, referencing his imaginary friend, a pillow who was gifted with speech and apparently held command of a sizable force of other pillows.

    His exasperated mother, knowing that resistance to his strange ways was futile, acquiesced.

    “Is… he going into kindergarten next year?” asked one of the other parents.

    “No, we’re going to homeschool him,” she replied.

    “Oh. I see. That’s probably a good thing,” the questioner said diffidently.

    If you need proof that I was a strange child, just ask my mom. She could tell you enough stories to fill a mountain of books. For starters, there was the way I used to crawl: I discovered that going about on hands and feet—apelike—was much, much faster than the conventional method of crawling on my hands and knees. And then there was my wild imagination, which you’ve already encountered.

    Ah, yes, those were great times. I loved to find my own ways to do things, and I learned by exploration. Ten years later, I would be building my own computer systems and teaching myself math. I wasn’t especially gifted, but I had the skills necessary to figure things out on my own.

    I can’t help but wonder how I would have turned out if I hadn’t been schooled at home. Now that I have sixty-some college credits under my belt, I feel that I can speak with at least with some authority on the education system as we know it. Let me demonstrate my thoughts with a drawn-out example.

    My friend once asked me a chemistry question. I replied that, as much as I would have liked to, I had never found the time to take chemistry in high school, but I would probably take it in college.

    She was astounded. “How could you not take chemistry? EVERYBODY takes chemistry!”

    Her incredulity made me laugh. I asked, “Are you going to take computer science?”


    “Christian Apologetics?”


    “Tae kwon do?”

    Irritated, she exclaimed, “No! I do not plan to take those classes! But… EVERYBODY takes chemistry! How could you not take chemistry?”

    Realize that my friend is pretty smart—she’s taking a load of biology classes to fulfill her dream of being a doctor. Still, she couldn’t fathom this idea of breaking from the status quo, even though I calmly explained to her that I was, indeed, learning subjects just as valuable as chemistry.

    My friend might be surprised to learn that my homeschool days were like a giant potpourri of subjects. Sure, there were certain subjects Mom wanted to be certain we hit, but a lot of it was left up to us, the students. Thus, my brother emerged a history major (minoring in art history and Bible), and I a math major (minoring in music, computer science, and Bible). Homeschooling allowed us to concentrate on our strengths and weaknesses without overdoing either—and don’t forget the no-test policy!

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard someone ask to be shown how to do something without even trying for himself. Last year, I would periodically help one of the computer science students with his homework, and it would drive me crazy when I’d show up at the computer lab, and he wouldn’t have even looked over the assignment. He’d then say, “Okay, now tell me what to do.”

    What’s more, public schools afford no specialized attention. If you already understand the topic of discussion, you have to sit through it anyway, wasting that much of your time. However, if you aren’t clear on something you are already supposed to understand, you’ll be hopeless lost a class period later. Thus, we see that the classroom can only accommodate the majority.

    Finally, is it uncommon for a public schooled student to complain about busywork, activities to burn time without exercising the mind? Or what about the lack of discipline (and abundance of stress) public schooling produces? Several people have said to me, “Homeschooling worked for you, but I wouldn’t have enough discipline. I’d get distracted at home.” So, tell me, what happens in real life when you have to accomplish something in the midst of distraction?

    Being in a class with many other people definitely has its place, but if that’s all you experience, you’re only learning passively—you’re only being spoon fed. If you find that you know exactly the same information and think exactly the same thoughts as the people around you, shed the cookie-cutter shape that has been imposed on you. Think for yourself.

    So… what’s it going to be? A flower? Or a tent city?

    AIM: WolfTecc

    Sunday, June 12, 2005

    California, Here I Come Am
    Hot and Peeved

    Today was frustrating.

    First, let me update y'all on what's going on. (Yes, this is Aakash again, and yes, I am still on a blogging hiatus... or am supposed to be.)

    My Sitemeter counter keeps being two hours behind where it should be; I think it corrects itself, but it keeps having that problem. And my laptop computer keeps showing the time two hours behind as well; even after I correct that computer clock, it keeps reverting to two hours behind.

    So, I decided that since my Sitemeter counter keeps wanting to be in PST, and since my computer clock is for some reason set to that as well, I ought to move to match that time zone. So I followed my calling, from Illinois, to California, and that's why I'm here right now.

    Just kidding... Well, not about the being-in-CA part, but about the reasons for it. I am actually here to attend the graduation ceremonies at a university this weekend.

    I was wanting to post something here before this weekend's festivities, but alas, that has been a problem - a big type of problem, in fact. I also brought along some course work (yes, there is still some of that left) with me, but using my computer here, and trying to get internet access - that has been a nightdaymare (yes, that's really a word). I am too pooped and tired to get into this more now... But I will say that for a campus that is a stone's throw from Silicon Valley and the GooglePlex, you would think that their systems would be more free and accessible. A seemingly-simple task that would have taken me about half and hour back home ended up draining several hours away from this evening, and I still wasn't able to get it done. What kind of show are they running here?

    Update (6/14/05): After getting really ticked last night (a bit more than I was the day before), things have cooled off now [not literally, but rather figuratively], and I will say the rest of what I wanted to say here... if I can still remember it.

    After checking out of the Stanford campus yesterday (they put us up in the freshman dorms - which they called a 'hotel' - perhaps by collegiate dorm standards it is, but...), we came over to Fremont, where we are staying with family members. We were considering going to Fisherman's Wharf in Frisco, but I think that we're instead just going to go out to lunch today; I'm not sure what else we will do. When I was here last time, two summers ago, we were able to cram in so much within the short amount of time we had - thanks to friends who live here, and who had an immense about of energy and enthusiasm! Check out the guest entry I posted at 'Deux Ego' about this, after getting back home.

    I do have a few assignments for one of my classes, that I need to get e-mailed to my professor ASAP, so I should work on those today as well. (It sucks having work to do while you're away, but then again, the change of atmosphere can actually help you be more productive.) I won't be back for some time longer, and then I'll have to immediately start back at my new summer job. I will be needing guest blogging here for about a week longer, so expect some of their entries here during this time.

    It's time to go out now... See you later.

    Side Notes (6/18/05):
    When we were doing the final move-out of my family member from his dorm house, it was the same afternooon that the Michael Jackson verdict was scheduled to be announced. Instead of trying to find a radio, I tried to listen live online, but that didn't work out. I was IMing with Brickmuppet, and after I mentioned where I was, he informed me of what the verdict was... commenting that there now apparently wouldn't be any rioting in this state. At least that's one positive result of this trial outcome.

    Around that same time, while sitting in the humid "Treat House" dorm room, I found out about an earthquake that had taken place in southern California the previous day... from Smash's entry. (Being in CA, I was wondering if he would have any current entries pertinent to being here, and it turns out that he did.) One other travelling blogger that I know of actually experienced that quake - on the beach! Golden State bloggers who felt the quake include our old friend Justene Adamec and our new friend Kevin Mickey.

    The thing is, we came to the L.A. area a couple of days after that [mild] earthquake from Sunday, and since that initial quake, there have been several more.

    [] [Latest news]

    I don't know if there's been one [yet] today, but there has been an earthquake in some part of California each of the past three days.

    I haven't felt a single one of them.

    Sunday, June 05, 2005

    Continuing the Legacy

    I don't know how much the media will cover this today, but this is the one-year anniversary of the passing of the greatest president of our time. I was wanting to arrange a trip to Eureka for College Republicans in Illinois, in rememberance of him, where we could get a tour of the Museum and Peace Garden (as we did last year, the day after he passed away). It didn't work out, but hopefully, we'll be able to arrange this for later this month.

    There is soooo much that I could write about this subject [latest news and opinion articles - my past remarks on Reagan], but right now, I need to get going.

    Please watch for the coverage (if there isn't much on the television and the radio, there hopefully will be on the web...) of this occasion. Also, please check out the 'Dateline' show this evening, at 6:00 PM central (7:00 PM eastern) on NBC, featuring Major Harry Schmidt, and his wife Lisa - that's what my entry from last night is about. [Read it below...]

    Saturday, June 04, 2005

    Another entry from Aakash, who is supposed to be on a blogging hiatus... ;-)

    Hometown Hero

    The other day, I was updating my sidebar on the left (note: as I've said before, while this blog's sidebar is on the left side, most of the links there are on the Right!)... I was trying to repair or fix broken links, and make other modifications. I should probably have gotten to this sooner; there is still some of that that I need to take care of.

    Major Harry Schmidt

    One of the changes that I needed to make was to the links at the top portion of my sidebar on our 'hometown hero' - the [unfortunately] famous Major Harry Schmidt, formerly a fighter pilot for the Springfield-based 183rd Fighter Wing of the Air National Guard. The case of Major Schmidt and Colonel William Umbach has been very important to those in our community, and myself and others have been supporting them, during this ordeal. I have mentioned this case before at my blog - see my Veterans Day entry from 2003, and my earlier entry on Gold Star Mothers Day. I have had the link to Major Schmidt's home page at that top portion of my sidebar for awhile; but that site [] is no longer online. When I did a Google search for Major Schmidt [latest news] (when I was recently working on my sidebar, as mentioned above), I found out that it was incidentally around the time of a ceremony at Fort Campbell honoring the victims of the friendly fire incident that resulted in the tragic deaths of the Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. (That was about a month after the 3rd anniversary... of that tragic day at Tarnak Farms.)

    But why am I here?

    I know that I am supposed to be on a blogging hiatus - I have pretty much gotten things taken care of for my graduation degree (there is still something that I need to do on Monday, but hopefully, this will work out fine), but I still have another course, for which I must turn in the required work by June 15th. However, I will be leaving the state on June 9th to attend a family member's college Graduation, so I hope to have the work mostly (or preferably, completely) finished by then.

    Priorities and Frivolities

    So, I should be working on that, and leave the work here to my guest bloggers (Nathan, James, and 'Erundur'). However, just as I had to post the two entries below - due to the special occasions (Memorial Day, and Colonel Hackworth's funeral) - I wanted to pop back in to let everyone know about something I saw in our local paper while waiting at the barbershop this afternoon. Major Harry Schmidt and his wife Lisa will be featured on Dateline tomorrow evening (Sunday), at 6:00 PM central time (7:00 PM eastern).

    Former pilot Schmidt to be featured on 'Dateline'
    Former fighter pilot Harry Schmidt of Sherman will discuss on national television Sunday the friendly fire accident in Afghanistan that killed four Canadian soldiers.

    When I updated my sidebar the other day, I included a link to article & interview with Major Schmidt from a recent issue of Chicago Magazine.

    I will likely be updating this entry soon, but right now, I am going to send out an e-mail, to CRs and others, letting them know about the Schmidts being on national television tomorrow evening.

    I also need to let them know that we aren't going to Eureka tomorrow... I had wanted to arrange a trip to the Reagan Museum and Peace Garden there, for the one-year anniversary of the Gipper's passing. But we weren't able to get something organized in time. I would still like to go some time this month - that is a special place, and we should do something for this occasion, like we did last year.

    I will be blogging here tomorrow as well, with regard to President Reagan. (That's another date that I can't let go by without breaking my blogging hiatus.) But I will definitely need to go into cramming mode after that, and then I'll be off to the West Coast.

    I'm sending the e-mail now; please try to watch Harry and Lisa Schmidt tomorrow evening. See you tomorrow.